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SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS- AN OVERVIEW

What is Sewage?
Waste water from Domestic, Commercial or Industrial usage containing
organic, inorganic & chemical solids in the suspended, colloidal or dissolved
state is called as Sewage.
Organic solids
In domestic wastewater, solids are about 50 percent organic. This fraction is
generally of animal or vegetable life, dead animal matter, plant tissue or
organisms, but may also include synthetic (artificial) organic compounds.
These are substances which contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, some of
which may be combined with nitrogen, sulfur or phosphorous.
Inorganic Solids
Inorganic solids are substances that are inert and not subject to decay.
Exceptions to this characteristic are certain mineral compounds or salts -such as sulfates -- which under certain conditions can be broken down.
Inorganic solids are frequently called mineral substances and include sand,
gravel and silt as well as the mineral salts in the water supply which produce
the hardness and mineral content of the water. In general, they are noncombustible.
The greater the concentration of organic or volatile solids, the
stronger the wastewater.
Solids can also be grouped depending on their physical state as suspended
solids, colloidal solids and dissolved solids, each of which can include both
organic and inorganic solids.
Principle of Sewage treatment Plant
A sewage treatment plant basically utilizes the same process carried out by
nature to treat solids in waste water, but in a controlled environment & at a
much accelerated pace.
The types of treatment carried out on sewage are:
Physical treatment
Biological treatment
Chemical treatment

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Biological treatment A process which uses microscopic bacteria to feed on organic solids in the waste water & produce other simpler compounds & gases. However. One of the important primary treatment units in the case of small sewage treatment systems. Hence. Sewage generation from housing complexes is not continuous and will be more in morning and evening hours. is the equalization tank. which stores sewage during peak hours and supplies the same continuously into the biological treatment unit. The size of the treatment system can also be small when designed as a continuous process.Physical treatment Methods employed in a plant to physically separate floating or larger suspended inorganic solids which can be disposed off as solid waste in land fills etc. they need to be operated continuously. sewage generation is limited to the working hours. the quantity of grit from housing complexes or commercial complexes is usually low. Grit chambers are also provided to remove particles such as sand. In case of commercial complexes. As most of the secondary treatment systems are biological. etc which would otherwise increase the wear and tear of moving mechanical equipment. A combination of all above methods is employed in a well designed STP so as to bring down the %age or waste matter to acceptable levels. bone chips. the equalization tank acts like a buffer tank. A STP process is classified in 3 stages: • • • Primary Secondary Tertiary Primary Treatment Primary treatment includes screens for removing floating and large size objects from sewage. This is the most important treatment in a STP which is responsible for reducing most of the organic load in the waste water (up to 95%) Chemical treatment Treatment with chemicals such as Chlorine/ Activated carbon/ Ozone to oxidize dissolved substances which may remain untreated by any of above. kalpataru Page 2 27-May-09 . which may otherwise choke the pipelines and pumps in the subsequent treatment process. Continuous treatment also increases efficiency of the system.

g. Bacteria & their role in treatment The saprophytic bacteria are those which feed on dead organic matter.Aeration of equalization tank is important to avoid septic conditions. to understand the process of a STP it is very important to understand the role & life cycle of these bacteria. Bacteria have the ability to multiply rapidly when in intimate contact with their nutrient material (e.. A prime responsibility of the operator is to provide the environmental condition best suited for their growth. slimes or "flocs" as in the activated sludge process floc of micro-organisms under the microscope Therefore. Bacteria occur in three basic shapes: rods (or bacilli). It is the biological organisms that actually carry on the processes of biological waste treatment. quite often they are found individually enmeshed or associated in masses. and producing in turn waste substances which consist of both kalpataru Page 3 27-May-09 . While all of these forms are found in sewages. thus decomposing organic solids to obtain their needed nourishment. These bacteria are encouraged to multiply rapidly in the tanks called as reactors with the help of mechanical aeration and adequate supply of nutrients (available in raw sewage). Secondary Treatment Secondary treatment is always done with the help of Saprophytic & parasitic bacteria which breakdown the dead organic solids into simpler compounds & gases. spheres (or cocci) and spirals. thereby avoiding bad odour. wastes) and feed readily by taking in food directly through their cell wall.

By this activity they are of utmost importance in sewage treatment methods designed to facilitate or hasten natural decomposition of the organic solids in sewage. oxygen for respiration. In the absence of bacterial life -. Each species tends to die away following completion of its part in the process of decomposition. require in addition to food.organic and inorganic solids. oxidation or decay. These organisms are known as aerobic bacteria and the process of degradation of organic solids which they carry out is termed aerobic decomposition. There are many species of saprophytic bacteria. Certain types of them can use only oxygen dissolved in water. parasitic and saprophytic.sterility -. Such processes of decomposition will not progress without their activity.decomposition will not take place. termed dissolved oxygen and sometimes called free or molecular oxygen. each of which plays a specific role in the breakdown of the organic solids of sewage. Nitrospira gracilis Nitrobacter winogradskyi All of the bacteria. kalpataru Page 4 27-May-09 . This type of decomposition proceeds in the presence of dissolved oxygen without the production of foul odours or unsightly conditions.

Anaerobic digestion pathway To complicate the reactions involved in the decay of organic matter. that is.Aerobic pathway Other types of bacteria cannot exist in the presence of dissolved oxygen but must obtain the required supply of this element from the oxygen content of organic and some inorganic solids which is made available by their decomposition. some varieties of anaerobic bacteria can become accustomed to live and grow in the presence of dissolved oxygen and are thus termed facultative anaerobic bacteria. decomposition in the absence of dissolved oxygen. Conversely. which results in the production of foul odours and unsightly conditions. Such micro-organisms are termed anaerobic bacteria and the process of degradation of solids which they bring about is called anaerobic decomposition or putrefaction. kalpataru Page 5 27-May-09 . certain aerobic types can adjust themselves to live and function in the absence of dissolved oxygen and are termed facultative aerobic bacteria.

Simplified comparison: aerobic vs anaerobic In addition to food and oxygen. When all of these environmental conditions of food supply. oxygen. kalpataru Page 6 27-May-09 . is definitely and sharply affected by such variations. They are very susceptible to changes in temperature in that their rate of growth and reproduction. Other bacteria live best at high temperatures.Such adaptability of the saprophytic bacteria to various sources of oxygen of great importance in the decomposition of organic solids in sewage and thus in the various treatment procedures. Thermophilic bacteria function in sewage treatment principally in high temperature digestion of sludge solids. The larger proportion of the saprophytic types thrive best at temperatures from 20°C to 40°C. or 130°F to 140°F. moisture. and temperature are properly maintained at their optimum amounts for the full functioning of the bacteria. or 68°F to 104°F. In order to function at maximum efficiency bacteria require a favorable temperature. practically eliminating it at extremely low temperatures and at high temperatures. These are known as psychrophylic bacteria. or 32°F to 40°F. 0°C to 5°C. Mesophilic sludge digestion proceeds most rapidly at 35°C or 95°F. Temperatures are of major importance in the operation of sewage treatment processes. decomposition of the sewage solids proceeds in a natural orderly manner. A very few types of bacteria find their optimum conditions at low temperatures. This is adequately provided in sewage by its water component. bacteria require moisture to remain alive. in the range of 55°C to 60*C. which is directly proportional to the amount of work done. Variations from this temperature range limit the activity of mesophilic bacteria. These are known as thermophilic types. These are known as mesophilic types.

. (1) Trickling filter kalpataru Page 7 27-May-09 . The main drawback of a BOD analysis.. Classification of Secondary Treatment Process Classification of secondary treatment processes is often based on the nature of microbial growth. (4) High purity oxygen B) Attached Growth Processes: Attached growth processes can be listed as follows.. Why BOD/COD? The ratio BOD/COD gives an indication of the fraction of pollutants in the wastewater that is biodegradable. It is expressed in mg/l.. (3) Wastewater and (4) Mixing to bring all the other components together.What is BOD? Aerobic bacteria 'demand' oxygen to decompose dissolved pollutants. hence the demand for oxygen will be high. The Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) is a measure of the quantity of dissolved organic pollutants that can be removed in biological oxidation by the bacteria. (3) Extended aeration. What is COD? The Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD) measures the quantity of dissolved organic pollutants that can be removed in chemical oxidation. by adding strong acids. It is expressed in mg/l. is that it takes five days to complete. (2) O2 supply (aeration). or they can be attached to an inert surface. SECONDARY TREATMENT Components of a Secondary Treatment Process Components of a secondary treatment process can be listed as follows (1) Microorganisms. A) Suspended Growth Processes: (1) Activated Sludge (most common). Large amounts of pollutants require large quantities of bacteria. (2) Contact stabilization.. Organisms can be suspended in wastewater.

(2) Rotating biological disks and (3) Submerged Aerated Fixed Film (SAFF) There are many secondary sewage treatment technologies commercially available in India. They include: • Conventional activated sludge process • Contact Stabilization process • Submerged fixed film process • Fixed film moving bed reactors • Rotating biological contactors • Reed bed system • Membrane bio reactor kalpataru Page 8 27-May-09 .

a settling tank. It may be either a completely mixed or plug . with oxygen being supplied by dissolution from entrained air.culture system that has been in use since the early 1900s. The main factors to be observed in this type of plants are hydraulic retention time. or active. packaged sewage treatment plants based on the activated sludge principle are designed using extended aeration. This means that even the biological sludge generated during biological treatment is stabilized in the process. Such packaged sewage treatment plants are of basic type and are large in size compared to other treatment technology. and an aeration system. The process derives its name from the fact that settled sludge containing living. amount of air provided. microorganisms is returned to the reactor to increase the available biomass and speed up the reactions. Activated sludge processes consist of a tank within which the biological reaction occurs. which does not smell and can be easily dried or centrifuged. Sewage treatment systems based on this principle are available in many sizes and shapes but the treatment philosophy remains the same. a recycle pumping system. The process is aerobic. producing lesser amount of sludge. recycle of sludge and control of recycling of sludge. kalpataru Page 9 27-May-09 . concentration of bacteria.flow process.Details of each process in brief: Conventional Activated Sludge Process The activated sludge process is a suspended . Usually.

Soluble materials pass through bacterial cell walls.Contact Stabilization This is a variation of the conventional activated sludge process. wastewater is contacted with the microorganisms for a much shorter time (1 to 2 hours as compared to 6 to 8 hours for conventional treatment). there is no incoming raw wastewater. it is more stable when subjected to large variations in flow or BOD loading. Detention time is minimized. Microorganisms consume organics in the contact tank. because they need more food. Solids settle out later and are wasted from the system or returned to a stabilization tank. After settling. while insoluble materials stick to the outside. Often no primary clarifier before the contact tank due to the rapid uptake of soluble and insoluble food. In this process. and are then recycled back to the contact tank. Microbes digest organics in the stabilization tank. Volume requirements for the stabilization tank are also smaller because the basin receives only concentrated return sludge. Although the configuration is slightly less efficient than the conventional activated sludge process. kalpataru Page 10 27-May-09 . so the size of the contact tank can be smaller. Raw wastewater flows into the contact tank where it is aerated and mixed with bacteria. the activated sludge is pumped to a re-aeration tank where the microorganisms metabolize the nutrients they have extracted from the waste.

This also reduces the turnover of solids in the clarifier. This media acts like a nest for bacteria. is possible to maintain a higher bacterial population inside the aeration tank. Usually.Submerged Fixed Film Process It is similar to the activated sludge process except that plastic media are fixed inside the aeration tank. A higher surface area provides more space for bacteria to grow. which gets attached to it and therefore it. kalpataru Page 11 27-May-09 .the main criterion for selection is the surface area available per cubic metre of media. thereby increasing its efficiency. thus increasing the capacity of the system. PVC corrugated media is used in this type of system. The media may be of different types . This avoids the need for sludge recycle because of which it is easy to operate and slightly reduces the power consumption.

a well-proven technology in terms of mechanical design of the unit is very important to avoid breakdowns. Rotating Biological Contactors The main advantage of rotating biological contactors is the absence of air blowers. After aeration.Floating Media Process This works on the same principle as the submerged fixed film process with only one exception . The main advantage of this system over the submerged fixed film process is that it prevents choking of the media. Here. the media along with bacteria is again immersed in the sewage to fetch food for the bacteria.the media is not fixed and floats around in the aeration tank. Others give a single tank design to simplify the scheme. kalpataru Page 12 27-May-09 . Care should be taken during selection . the volumes provided may be higher. The system is quite compact and allows flexibility in design of the reactor tank. But the single tank design makes the system compact and occupies less space. Contact of organic matter and bacteria is also better in this system. There are several commercial models available. some manufacturers give a two tank system where first tank takes the maximum organic load and the second one acts as a polisher tank. Aeration of bacteria is done by exposing the rotating media to atmospheric air. This also avoids sludge recirculation. The rotating media provided is of different shapes and sizes based on the manufacturer. This alternate exposure to waste water and air provides food and oxygen to the bacteria. The main disadvantage of this process is frequent failure of the rotating shaft carrying the rotating media.

Membrane Bio Reactor The Membrane Bio Reactor (MBR) is among the latest technologies in biological treatment. Wetland plants are planted on the bed. It occupies more space but does not require any maintenance except initial pumping of sewage.Reed Bed System This is a natural method of treating sewage. These MBRs can handle very high sludge concentrations in the aeration tank because of which the size of the aeration tank reduces four to five-fold. It consists of a water resistant tank made of RCC or earthen work lined with impermeable lining. Some suppliers incorporate proprietary media in the top soil which increases the permeability of soil and supplies biological cultures to set in right environment for the system. Filling materials include support gravel and soil layer at the top. it does not require any further treatment using sand filters. Sewage flows through the medium and around the roots and gets treated for organic and suspended matter present in the sewage. As the membrane acts as a fine filter. kalpataru Page 13 27-May-09 . Submerged membranes are used in place of clarifiers to separate sludge from the wastewater so as to produce high quality permeate. Care should be taken that the primary setting tank is designed properly so that the bed is not overloaded with suspended solids which otherwise may choke the bed. etc. Care also needs to be taken for selection of proper wetland plants which gives good efficiency in treating sewage. activated carbon filters. This method being space intensive is rarely used in urban areas.

it generates highly stabilised sludge of low volume. etc. TERTIARY TREATMENT Tertiary treatment at the end of secondary treatment is provided to further treat the sewage to make it suitable for recycle. By any name. All clarifier related problems such as sludge bulking. 9. This also saves energy and recirculation pumps are absent. which can be directly fed into the reverse osmosis (RO) system. sand filtration and activated carbon. It makes the treatment scheme short and compact. sludge rising etc. 5. Tertiary treatment units generally include alum addition. Just one gram of activated carbon has the surface area of approximately two tennis courts. though often further chemical treatment is used to enhance the absorbing properties of the material. polymers. it is a material with an exceptionally high surface area. 8. MBR also removes bacteria and viruses up to 4 to 6 log. 6. Because of high concentrations of sludge and long sludge age periods. and includes a large amount of micro porosity. For all three variations of the name. typically determined by nitrogen gas adsorption. kalpataru Page 14 27-May-09 . it does not require costly tertiary treatment units to make the effluents suitable for recycle. Sufficient activation for useful applications may come solely from the high surface area.MBR has the following advantages over conventional treatment processes: 1. It requires less area as the aeration tank size is very compact and does not have clarifier. is a general term which covers carbon material mostly derived from charcoal. odours. civil works is also minimized. chlorination. "activated" is sometimes substituted with "active". are avoided and clarifier unit itself is avoided. 2. which are required in the tertiary treatment of conventional sewage treatment plant. also called activated charcoal or activated coal. It does not require sludge recycle. 3. It is also called Effluent polishing. 4. Activated carbon. As tank sizes are smaller. thus complicated sludge controls are avoided. Tertiary treatment is aimed at removing turbidity. It does not require any chemicals such as coagulants. microorganisms & residual colour from the treated water. MBR produces high quality treated water. 7.

Capital cost. Operating costs. 6. Durability & Reliability of equipments & Tanks The following comparative chart will give us a basic idea about the requirements of each type of treatment process. kalpataru Page 15 27-May-09 . viz: for gardening. medical. Ability for taking shock loads 8. pharmaceutical etc. A proper study of the proposed plant on a case to case basis is required to properly access the actual feasibility for each process. Type of sewage viz: domestic. industrial. 5. 2. 7. Sludge generation or output of plant 9.Activated Carbon Selection & Design of a process for an STP should be made after giving due consideration for following factors: 1. 4. 3. Please note that the figures indicated are very general & based on thumb rules. Amount of Sewage to be treated. for flushing. Space availability. for HVAC plant etc. commercial. Proposed use of treated effluent.

093/- Rs.000/.25. 49.Per Month Rs. 34.5) 6.15.per month Rs.1. 20. 78.4.00 6 Civil & Electrical Cost ( Approx)** Rs.+ 1.450/. 30.000/.000/- 5 Cost Per Cmt (Excluding Civil Costs) 12700.000/.000/- Rs. 50000/.5 6. 39.Per Month Rs.Per Month Rs.00.000/- Rs.165 Cmt/day} Sr. 21.50.Per Month (1 shift) Rs. 15. 69. 64000/.+Rs.18.Per Month Rs.50.50.000/- Rs.Per Month Rs. 14.093/- Rs.5Smt) 150Smt X 4 m ht.00. 1. 40.20.70.000/.000/. 1.Per Month kalpataru Page 16 27-May-09 .000/.70.4.5 6 to 8.47.000/.000/- Rs.000/.10.284/- Rs.000/- Rs.000/- Rs.5 MPCB Standards pH ( 6 to 8.5 to 8 3 Plant Size 19.18. 33.50.860/.per month Rs.28.000/.000/- 8 Cost Per Cmt (Including Civil Costs) Rs.+Rs.+1. 33.275/- 9 Running Cost a) Power Rs.56. 16.000/- 7 Nett Cost of STP Rs.28.000/.000/- Rs.15.75. 31. 33.50. 52. 50.000/.3.000/- Rs.000/- Rs.000/.00 12400. Process Type Extended Aeration 1 Capacity of Plant 2 Influent/Effluent Properties 165 m Influent SAFF 3 Effluent 165 m Influent Activated Sludge with SAFF 3 165 m Effluent Rotating Bio-Disc Contactor 3 Influent 250 m Contact Stabilisation Process 3 165 m3 Effluent Influent Effluent MPCB Standards BOD ( < 10 mg/Lt) 400 mg/lt < 10 mg/Lt 250 mg/lt < 20 mg/Lt 300 to 400 mg/lt < 10 mg/Lt 200 to 300 mg/lt < 10 mg/Lt 200-400 mg/lt MPCB Standards COD ( < 10 mg/Lt) 400 mg/lt < 100 mg/Lt 550 mg/lt < 100 mg/Lt 500 to 700 mg/lt < 30 mg/Lt 400 to 600 mg/lt < 50 mg/Lt 400-500 mg/lt MPCB Standards TSS ( < 5 mg/Lt) 200 mg/lt < 20 mg/Lt 200 mg/lt < 10 mg/Lt 180-220 mg/lt < 5 mg/Lt 200 to 350 mg/lt < 10 mg/Lt 200-350 mg/lt MPCB Standards 6 to 8.Per Month c) Operators Rs.00.5 6 to 8.425/- Rs.00 12000.16.Per Month Rs.000/.00 10600.71.Per Month Rs. 105 Smt 105 Smt 105 Smt 4 Supply/Installation Cost * Rs.+ Rs.Comparative Statement of STP Processes {Assumed Cap.95.000/.5 6 to 8. 17.55.5 6 to 8 6 to 8.450/.5mx9mx4m ( 175.4. 47.Per Month Rs.970/- Rs.5 to 7.00.000/.5 6 to 8.Per Month Rs.000/- Rs.Per Month Rs.50.000/.00 9000. 47. 20.Per Month Rs. 2400/. 42.Per Month b) Chemicals Rs.730/.Per Month Rs.Per Month Rs.75.97.000/.000/.Per Month Total Running Cost Per Month Rs.703/- Rs.